Trump urges Israelis, Palestinians to work together for peace


Trump doesn't expect to emerge from his two-day visit to Israel and the West Bank with a deal in hand, but he is the latest president to arrive here with the lofty goal in mind. It comes as he contends with a raft of problems back home, including a special counsel investigating whether his associates colluded with Russian Federation.

Trump is eager to get Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to restart dormant Middle East peace talks.

He later travelled by helicopter to Jerusalem and, in remarks at Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's residence, launched another salvo against Iran.

US President Donald Trump has begun a visit to Israel by warning of the threat posed by Iran if it acquires nuclear weapons. "And it must cease immediately". Israeli leaders have remained tight-lipped about the leaks, saying only that security ties between Israel and the United States remain strong. The alleys and passageways of Jerusalem's ancient Old City, which Trump visited later in the day, were essentially under lockdown.

Where Trump's approach to the conflict has markedly differed from that of past presidents is in how he has staffed the team of top officials leading the peace effort, picking from a crop of individuals from the private sector with no prior government experience - just like himself. His wife, daughter and son-in-law joined him in visiting two of the holiest sites of Christianity and Judaism, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built, tradition has it, over the sites of Jesus' crucifixion and burial.

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Wearing a black skullcap, he paused in front of the holiest site where Jews can pray, then placed what appeared to be a written prayer or note between its stones, as is custom.

Israeli police say a Palestinian assailant has stabbed an Israeli policeman in central Israel. He has since backed off any impending move over fears it would cause controversy and hinder peace talks with Palestine. Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 in moves never recognised by the worldwide community.

"The focus is on how upsetting it'd be to Palestinians if the United States recognized Jerusalem as the Jewish capital", Oren said.

Officials on all sides have played down hopes of an imminent breakthrough in peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians - described by Trump before his trip as his "ultimate deal".

"President Trump is signaling to Israel that he will act to bring peace in the future, he loves Israel, but if we want peace, it won't fall out of the sky".

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On Tuesday, Trump will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. It remains to be seen whether that elusive goal can be achieved, but numerous stops on Trump's two-day sojourn in Israel and the West Bank are redolent of history, faith - and conflict.

Trump shocked longtime observers of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process earlier this year when he declined to endorse a two-state solution to the conflict, breaking with stated U.S. policy under his past two predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

He cast uncertainty over years of worldwide efforts to foster a two-state solution when he met Netanyahu at the White House in February.

Israeli officials say they are largely in the dark about what ideas Trump might present for peace or what concessions he may demand.

On Sunday, Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, both of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, voted against the measure to boost Palestinian building in Area C. Bennett, the party's leader, told fellow ministers over the weekend that the move amounted to a de facto change in borders for which Israel would receive nothing in return, Army Radio reported.

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Trump advocated during his campaign breaking with decades of precedent and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, deeply alarming Palestinians.